Lightweight Homebuilt Camper for my Tacoma

PROJECT FOR SALE Lightweight Homebuilt Camper for my Tacoma

Two years ago I started dreaming of a pop up camper build.

You may recall my model out of LEGO.... found here

Well…. in middle of January this year I started!

I am keeping it as light as possible…. with 1x1 .06 aluminum tubing in the walls, 1x1.5 .09 tubing for the roof support… and .035 or .04 aluminum skin.

So far it has been a ton of fun…. but finding the time will be the clincher …. my plan is to finish it for a cross Canada trip this July and August.

My two years of dreaming has piled up a number of cool features that will be time consuming to build.

Laying up the floor
Laying up the walls
building the base
what is this thing going to look like?
the welds are getting better.... this .06 tubing I was told would be challenging..... they were right

I apologize in advance if there is long lag between posts.... I have not had time to be on the forum for the past month!
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Nice start.

Curious, what are you using for a welder? I am looking to replace my current MIG with one I can get a spool gun for, for doing alumium.

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Thanks for the positive feedback....

The welder is just a Lincoln 180 with an aluminum spool gun...... having done hundreds of 1 inch welds I have learned this is not the best tool for the job.... but it works with practice.

When I do the next camper.... I will be buying a Miller pulse mig.... like the 350...... my local aluminum fab shop uses one and loves it...or a tig welder..... he would use his tig welder on the 06 tubing.

AeroNautiCal.... yes I thought of filling the tubes... but it would be very challenging to do.... I also thought of covering the whole inside or outside with 1/2 of styrofoam to cover the tubing.... but haven't been able to source such thin foam

ordered the window today.... and vhb tape and sourced the skin.... just finding and ordering all the parts takes more time than one would think.

I am thinking of a winter liner that extends down over the hard walls not just the fabric section... for those cold weather trips.....

Has anyone found a nice single tap faucet for a cold water only system?


Try Lowes or Home Depot for a Bar faucet

I used a cheap wet bar faucet from Lowe's... mine was less than $20
It was a typical two knob setup but I plumbed it with two separate systems... both cold.
One side runs to a standard 12vdc camper pump which is fed by a 7 gal camp jug.
The other side I ran to a outside fitting for "city water" connection... be sure to use a pressure reducer in that line or you end up with water all over due to high pressure... don't ask how I know this.:Wow1:

Looking good so far...!


I also thought of covering the whole inside or outside with 1/2 of styrofoam to cover the tubing.... but haven't been able to source such thin foam
Pretty sure they hardware stores have foam sheeting in 1/2". If not an alternative is use 1.5" or 2" foam in the spaces between the framing and then rip strips off a 1" thick foam board on the table saw to fill in the .5" or 1" respectively over the framing. Main issue you'd run into is you'd want blocking rather than the foam spacer where anything on the interior needed to structurally mount to the frame.

Has anyone found a nice single tap faucet for a cold water only system?
OH's whale recommendation if you are wanting manual. Shurflo electric faucet and nautilus pump if you want it powered (the pump speed control is build into the faucet knob).


Neoprene and other closed cell foam types are available in that thickness, and though dearer than styrofoam, have better insulation properties.
I am putting in an electric pump.......I saw the electric faucet online.... what is the electric part for? The trailers I have had used ordinary faucets and the pump simply starts on demand.

I had thought of plumbing the two taps to cold.... but I like to find the best solutions..... bar taps are the only ones I have found.... or SMEV taps.... has anyone used the loc line flexible tubing to make a simple bendable tap faucet?

my hardware stores do not have 1/2 foam sheets.... and have not found it online.... only 1" or thicker.
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So traditional trailer campers with multiple water users have a pump with a pressure switch on it, and usually an accumulator, that when turned on pump till a pressure is reached and then turn off and wait till the pressure drops to turn back on. Presumably this would be due to someone opening a faucet but it could also be a line rupture or such... These pumps also are larger in foot print, weight, cost, and amp draw.

For our little campers with just a faucet I think the surflo faucet and nautilus pump are a no brainer (I put one in my FWC). There is basically a dimmer switch in the faucet knob and you wire the pump through it, when you start opening the knob the pump starts spooling up flow to match. When you close the knob the pump shuts off, nothing is really pressurized highly and you can just use tubing with hose clamps. I also have a main power switch in my setup so I can kill the pump and also mounted the whole piping arrangement sloping back to the tank (including the pump) so when I hit the kill switch and open the faucet all the water will drain backwards to the tank (assuming the tank is being emptied also otherwise it just reaches an equal level). This aids in winterization or stagnant water in storage.

On the foam as I was pointing out above if you wanted 1/2" over the aluminum framing you'd need 1.5" in the bays where there is no framing. Can you find 1.5"? If so use that between the framing and then you'll just have 1"wide x 1/2" deep gaps in your insulation where the framing is. Rip 1/2" thick strips off a 1" sheet on the tablesaw to fill in these spaces. IF you want to get a 1/2" of foam over your framing. Or if you wanted 1" of foam over the framing you could put down 1" foam between the framing and then another sheet of 1" foam over the whole deal including the framing.
I was wondering the purpose of those electric faucets.... thanks for that info.... I may or may not go that direction I will check into it further. A pressurized system would be pretty easy for me to set up as well.

I had entertained ideas like you have described for the insulation..... and more...... and in the end have decided on a different approach for the extra insulation. Like every decision .... cost and hassle factor installing and space usage .... and functionality....are all factors. That is the joy of a home built. We each get to make all those decisions for ourselves each step of the way.
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Whatever is your preference, like you said you can customize at will. I tend to favor the nautilus setup for size/simplicity and the pump and faucet usually don't cost all the much more than the typical larger pumps. Another perk is at 1gpm you'll not chew through your water like a larger pump may. About the only downside I can think of with that pump for our size campers is its only rated for about 4" of suction lift so you need to keep that in mind for mounting purposes where as the larger pumps can often pull from a source a few feet below them. So that's something to consider as well, my suction point is going to be buried in my cabinet so I may consider a different setup as well but in my FWC for the layout and small footprint that setup fit very well.

If you have a soft side pop-up I wouldn't really worry about the foam, I was just brain storming for the goal of having foam over the framing.
Good info thanks

I agree..... because of the soft side design..... I decided not to go with the extra foam....

Currently thinking of an extra large winter liner that covers the soft side and the solid wall as extra insulation.

But as you know well..... many ideas never come to fruition